Tag Archives: gaslighting
I love memes. In fact, I saved many over the years. Some inspire me with quoting Scripture. Others inspire because of the beautiful pictures. And then there are ones like this one that was popular on Facebook for a while. It said, “It is very sad when members of the same family do not talk to each other. The children suffer for the adult ego. Cousins miss the wonderful opportunity to be together, & all due to a bruised adult ego. Stop getting offended. Reunite with your family members. One day your imaginary conflict will all come to an end…with or without you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Type yes if you agree.”
That one about made me gag.
I will admit, there are families where someone is being a petty jerk & not speaking to other family members. It does happen, but I don’t believe it’s all that common.
What is much more common is when someone in a family is abusive, & their victim gets fed up. They sever ties with that abuser to protect themselves & sometimes also their spouse & children. The abuser & their devoted flying monkeys harass the victim, drag their name through the mud & blindly support the abuser. Meanwhile the victim is left behind in a state of shock & deeply hurt by the betrayal of not only the abuser but the family members who once said they loved the victim. I guess that truth doesn’t make such a “nice”, wholesome sounding meme though, does it?
If I sound angry about this, it’s because I am. Not only for myself since I have been in this position but for the countless others who have been as well.
It’s not right to abuse someone in the first place. There is no reason to abuse anyone. The only thing that makes this even worse is when people know about the abuse, but treat the abuser with kindness & the victim with disdain. Treating someone who has the courage to open up about being abused is one of the cruelest things a person can do to another in my opinion. It takes a lot of courage to go against the abuser’s wishes in any way, especially their desire to keep their acts secret, because once it’s out, you can’t take it back. To treat someone in this position as if they’re lying, making a big deal about nothing, acting like a spoiled brat, trivialize their feelings or experiences or claim they want to hear nothing about it is absolutely disgraceful & disgusting. Anyone who does this should be utterly ashamed of their actions, but sadly that is rare.
People who act this way are people who are fans of the meme I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Those people obviously have issues. Since I’m related to many of that type of person & have seen their sick behavior first hand, I think I can say that without any doubt. Thanks to these people, I have learned a few things about this kind of person.
People who treat victims as they do often have abuse in their past. They don’t have the guts to face that fact, so they deny it. They put on a fake happy face & tell stories of their happy family. Their denial runs deep so they don’t have to face the pain. Any perceived threat to it & they attack. This includes silencing other victims who are willing to speak out, even when those victims are their own family.
There are others who know the narcissist & refuse to believe the truth. They believe the “nice guy/girl” act & will also attack any threat to their denial of the truth.
People like this are just as toxic as the narcissist who abused you in the first place. And sadly, they’re out there creating memes like this & hurting & manipulating God only knows how many people who see it. It’s utterly disgusting! You really can’t believe everything you read, because sometimes it’s nothing more than garbage written by toxic people.
Narcissists clearly are experts in the area of controlling. One lesser known tactic they use is called coercive control. It is most commonly known to happen in romantic relationships, but it also can happen in parent/child relationships.
Coercive control doesn’t always involve physical violence, yet victims wonder if they don’t obey the narcissist, will it turn violent one day? Fear is a great weapon, & those who use coercive control are well aware of that fact. Often without so much as touching their victim, they instill a deep fear in them.
There are other signs of coercive control that people need to be aware of abusers using.
Intimidation is a big red flag. Towards the end of my first marriage, my ex was trying to intimidate me by punching things other than me. After, he would tell me how lucky I was he was hitting the walls instead of me. Other forms of intimidation can include showing weapons, blocking you from leaving the room or standing over you in a way as to make themselves look much bigger than you.
“Minor” violent acts. I hate to use the word minor with violent acts because it sounds like it’s trivializing violence. That isn’t my intention. What I mean is acts like pushing, holding you in place or even pinching hard. These are so called minor violent acts.
Using threats to control. Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide or hurt your child or pet in order to get what they want fall into the category of coercive control.
Micromanaging a victim. When someone controls things like how you dress or how you wash the dishes, it makes you easy to control because in time, you feel as if you must ask your partner for permission to do everything. Some parents continue treating their adult child as if they were young children in need of their guidance well into adulthood. This is known as infantilization.
Financial abuse. An abusive partner will keep their mate in the relationship by destroying their credit, spending all of their paychecks or refusing them all access to the couple’s finances.
Isolation is another form of coercive control. It’s no secret that abusers isolate their victims. Isolation makes victims easy to control by limiting the information & support they can receive from outside sources. Abusers may claim their victims’ friends or family aren’t good for them as one way to isolate their victims.
Sex is a very commonly used method of coercive control. Abusers may violently rape their victims of course, but that isn’t always the case. Many use shame, saying things like, “Any other woman in the world would do this one little thing for me…” or, “If you loved me, you would do this for me.” They also may be very good lovers at first to get you hooked on sex with them, then in time, they suddenly lose interest in having sex with you. When you practically beg them is when they have power over you. They use the opportunity to tell you what they want from you that will make them regain interest in sex.
When things like this happen, it’s not easy to identify these behaviors as abusive at first. Abusers get worse gradually, to build a victim’s tolerance to abuse. This is probably why so many victims stay… it happened so gradually, they didn’t even realize it was happening. By the time they did, they felt unable to escape.
If this describes you or someone you know, please get out NOW!!! These behaviors are all signs of a potentially violent person! Protect yourself & stay safe! xoxo
Cognitive dissonance describes the very uncomfortable feeling of learning that something you believed was true is indeed not true. Imagine living your life always believing the sky was green. It never crossed your mind thinking it was anything but green. Suddenly one day, someone tells you the sky is blue. You know the person who told you it is blue wouldn’t lie to you. You also see for yourself that it’s blue. You now have to accept this new fact that that the sky is blue. That awkward feeling of struggling to accept the new reality is cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a very common problem among those who have survived narcissistic abuse. Narcissists lie about pretty much everything, especially to their victims. They have no problem lying & do it constantly. Anything to get them what they want. Because of this, victims often struggle with cognitive dissonance when they learn the truth. I’ve been there many times.
Most recently, I’ve experienced cognitive dissonance upon learning after my mother’s death that my parents loved me, in some way (just not a normal, healthy way). As a child, I just assumed they did, because that’s what children do. As I got older, I didn’t think they did due to their abusive ways, & worked hard to accept that painful truth. Then after my mother’s death, in the process of clearing out the house, I found they had saved cards & things I’d given them, school projects & other things that they wouldn’t have saved if they didn’t love me. Talk about difficult to accept & rectify in my mind!
Experiencing cognitive dissonance can be very difficult & painful. Learning some truths can be downright excruciating. There is also the fact of learning that someone you love lied to you. That broken trust can be very painful. There is also the subject matter of the lie. That can bring up sadness, anger, hurt & all kinds of unpleasant emotions.
When facing this distressing & challenging situation. as always I recommend beginning with prayer. Ask God for whatever you need, such as help in getting through this, strength, courage.
Consider the evidence facing you, too. Is it clearly the truth? If someone has told you something that is causing this cognitive dissonance, is that person trustworthy?
Always remember that there is no shame in believing something wrong. We all have done this! The only problem would be if you were unwilling to be open to new perspectives & beliefs.
There is also no shame in that you trusted someone who lied to you. This is something every single person has done at some point. It happens! it doesn’t mean you are foolish or naive or anything else. It means you’re human!
Also think about this: the person who is willing to challenge their beliefs, to learn & grow, is brave & intelligent. Many people prefer to stay in their own little box. They are content with not changing, learning or growing. The person they were five years ago is the same person they are now & will be in five years. Actually, if you think about it… that describes flying monkeys. They accept something as truth (such as the narcissist being a good person) & refuse to change their minds even when faced with evidence to the contrary, like when the narcissist shows their abusive ways. You aren’t like that, though! You’re willing to face truth no matter how painful it is.
Humility is another thing that shows when you are dealing with cognitive dissonance. Being willing to change your perspective shows that you realize you don’t know everything. That is a very good quality!
Don’t let your experience with cognitive dissonance make you feel badly about yourself. Everyone has experienced it at some point.
You will survive this painful time with your sanity in tact, even though it may not feel like it at the time. xoxo
Narcissists love attention, & many must be the focal point of everyone’s attention at all times. Overt narcissists are naturally more brazen in how they command attention than their covert counterparts, but covert narcissists love attention too. There are countless things they can do to draw all attention to themselves, but this post addresses some of the more commonly used tactics.
Narcissists have no manners whatsoever. Add that in with their insatiable desire to have everyone’s attention, & you have a person who WILL interrupt whoever is talking. When a person interrupts, they naturally become the center of attention, so it’s a useful & very commonly used tactic for narcissists.
Overt narcissists can be loud in how they interrupt people. They usually will talk over people. Covert narcissists, as usual, are more subtle. They will try to have the final word in any conversation. There is also a trick my covertly narcissistic father used. As I would start to speak, he’d act like he was going to speak. Naturally, I’d apologize & let him talk. Eventually I realized that was his goal. He didn’t want to hear what I had to say. He wanted to shut me up so he could talk, & knowing I hate bad manners, I’d be polite & let him talk.
And, if a narcissist is hard of hearing, interrupting becomes easier yet. Many have what I call selective hearing. While they may indeed have diminished hearing, they also use the excuse of not hearing a person when it fits them. If they want someone else to stop talking so they can talk, they can just start talking & claim they didn’t hear the other person talking.
Another way narcissists gain attention is by turning a conversation back to themselves. After all, if people are talking about something that isn’t the narcissist, that means the narcissist isn’t the center of attention. They will spin the conversation around to themselves in such a way that no one will have a clue how that happened.
Narcissists also gain attention by telling stories about you to other people, preferably in a group of which you also are a part. Not good stories like how you got that big promotion at work or were your high school valedictorian, only stories that embarrass you. This tactic is especially popular with narcissistic parents, but spouses also may use it, especially if the narcissist is older than the victim. Telling embarrassing stories makes a person feel shamed & foolish, which makes a person easier to control, so that is an added bonus to the attention the stories gain. And, the narcissist may spin the story so it looks like he or she rescued you somehow.
If the narcissist has some sort of pain like back pain, arthritis, or even a short term problem such as a broken leg, the problem will be used to his or her advantage. You can expect this person to claim unbearable pain when not receiving all attention. A similar scenario can happen if the narcissist has an illness or disease. If this narcissist isn’t the center of attention, suddenly he or she will claim symptoms are flaring up, or maybe that he or she must lay down or go home immediately. In either scenario, most people will focus on the narcissist & try to help, returning him or her to the center of attention.
Shock value is another favorite way narcissists gain attention. My mother literally crashed my late father in-law’s funeral in 2018 to get her precious attention. She drove to the graveside as the funeral was just starting & wouldn’t get out of her car. People were shocked, & staring. It worked as she wanted. Other shock value tactics may include things like burping or passing gas loudly, or saying something totally outrageous such as gory details of how someone was murdered. Shock value naturally stuns people, & they focus all attention on the narcissist, as was the goal.
When the narcissist in your life behaves this way, deprive them of that attention. If they interrupt you, talk over them or talk to someone else. If they change the topic back to themselves, change it back to the original topic. If they use embarrassing stories, pain or shock value, ignore them. Depriving a narcissist of attention means that action won’t be used again because it doesn’t work.
Most of us who have survived narcissistic abuse know at least some about projection. Projection is when a narcissist accuses a victim of something that the victim doesn’t do, but the narcissist does. As one example, my narcissistic mother accused me of lying more times than I can count. Although in all fairness I lied some to her, I didn’t lie to her often, & when I did, it was out of self preservation. She, however, has lied to & about me more times than I can count.
Projection is a very effective weapon for a narcissist. It allows the narcissist to get upset about the flaw they are accusing another person of while simultaneously accepting no responsibility whatsoever for it or making appropriate changes in their behavior. It also means that unless the victim is aware of the phenomenon of projection, the victim will listen to the narcissist & make whatever changes they need to in order to please the narcissist. This means plenty of narcissistic supply to any narcissist. Controlling a victim? Turning a situation around so the victim feels responsible while absolving oneself of responsibility at the same time?! This is a big narcissistic supply win!
Victims need to be aware of projection so not only do they refuse to accept this burden & blame any longer, but also so the narcissist in their life is deprived of getting their narcissistic supply. Depriving a narcissist of supply is VERY important to help you maintain your sanity while in a relationship with any narcissist.
Another reason to know about projection is because it can help you to learn about the narcissist. Remember what projection is- a narcissist accusing a victim of things that they are doing, not the victim. A narcissistic wife who accuses her husband of cheating is most likely cheating or at the very least, has chosen someone she wants to have an affair with. The narcissistic boss who accuses an employee of stealing from the company probably has stolen quite a bit. A narcissistic parent who accuses their adult child of lying is most likely a liar.
If you pay attention to what the narcissist in your life accuses you of doing, you can learn what they are up to. This knowledge can help you to figure out ways to deal with the narcissist because now you know just what you’re dealing with.
The next time the narcissist in your life accuses you of some outrageous behavior, Dear Reader, I urge you to listen to it. Not because they are right, but because it can help you to understand what they are up to.
So many people seem to think that because an abusive person was pleasant with them, it means that person wasn’t abusive. Nothing could be further from the truth! Abusers are very selective in the specific types of people they wish to abuse. This means not everyone fits into the abusive person’s agenda.
Abusers aim for people who have experienced abuse in their past. Most people, including victims, will assume the victim is the problem if they have had multiple abusive relationships, because he or she is the common denominator in these awful relationships. It makes sense to some degree to think that way. However, it doesn’t mean that is always the truth.
Abusers also aim for empathetic people with a kind heart because they are much more willing to excuse abuse. These people will understand that their abuser has suffered trauma in some way, so they tell themselves that their abuser is only acting out of dysfunction. This leads them to tolerate a great deal of abuse that they normally wouldn’t be willing to tolerate. I did this with my parents & my late mother in-law. I can tell you that it was a huge mistake which led to me being hurt a great deal.
Or, people with a kind heart may want to try to “fix” this “broken” person as a way to help them. Although the fact that they want to help people is quite admirable, this line of thinking can set a person up for abusive people to take advantage of & hurt them.
Insecure people are also a good target for abusive people, because abusers realize that insecure people are very pliable. It won’t take a great deal of work for a narcissist to change someone who is insecure into whatever it is a narcissist wants.
If you aren’t insecure though, chances are good that your self confidence was seen as a challenge to your abuser. While narcissists do like insecure victims, confident ones also are a good thing in their mind. Confident victims are a bit of a challenge. If they can destroy a confident person, then they see themselves as very powerful, which provides a great deal of narcissistic supply.
In order to avoid these awful situations, I have some suggestions.
First, as always I recommend prayer. Turn to God & He will help you. Talk to Him about whatever it is you feel & ask Him to help you. Ask Him to identify easily the red flags & to give you creative ideas to cope with this situation.
If there is something about a person that makes you uncomfortable, even if all outward signs look good, trust that the uncomfortable feeling is there for a reason. Watch the person’s actions closely for either good or bad signs & it won’t take you long before you recognize whether this person is abusive or not.
Also, always remember your boundaries & do NOT compromise them! What are you comfortable with or uncomfortable with? What are you willing to do or not willing to do? You have every right to feel as you do & to enforce those boundaries however you feel is appropriate.
Keep learning, growing & getting healthier. The more you do that, the less abusive people will be attracted to you. Abusers of all types size people up quickly, & if they see right away that you’re emotionally & mentally healthy, they will be more inclined to leave you alone. As an added bonus, the healthier you are, the more other healthy, functional people will be attracted to you.
Lastly, never, ever forget that even if someone does abuse you, that doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Ultimately, the choice to abuse someone belongs squarely on the shoulders of the abuser, not the victim. There is nothing any victim can do to force someone to abuse them.
There is no way to avoid abusive people entirely simply because they are everywhere. However, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of being abused.
Denial is an unhealthy coping mechanism in which people refuse to acknowledge that something is happening in order to make themselves more comfortable & to avoid facing the ugly truth. There are different facets of denial & those with narcissistic parents are well aware of many of them.
One form of denial is when narcissists deny doing anything wrong. They may justify their actions by blaming their victims or deny altogether that they did anything wrong at all. Either way, they refuse to take any responsibility for their actions & deny that their actions are hurting another person.
Those close to a narcissist also often deny the abuse is happening. If a victim reaches out to others, to their family in particular, chances are excellent that they will be met with invalidating & even shaming statements. They may also be accused of lying about the narcissist.
Such forms of denial are destructive to victims. They teach the victim that she can’t trust her own perceptions, feelings, thoughts & even sanity. Denial also teaches victims that their feelings & thoughts are unworthy, that they shouldn’t bother people with them. That easily can lead to the destruction of a victim’s self esteem. In turn, this can lead to a person tolerating all manners of abuse, because they feel unworthy to defend themselves or they simply don’t believe that their feelings or perceptions of a situation are accurate.
Although coping with such awful experiences & the aftermath is hard, it can be done successfully.
You’ll need to depend on God. A lot. He knows the truth of the situation, so you can count on Him to show you what the truth is whenever you have any doubts. Never hesitate to ask Him to help you, because He will be glad to do so!
Keeping a journal is very helpful too. Write about the traumatic events as soon as you can after they happen, & be sure to include dates & lots of details. If later someone says, “That never happened!” you can go back & see that yes, it DID happen! If those things didn’t happen, you wouldn’t have written about them!
I also recommend writing your story. Naturally it’s your choice whether or not to publish it or any part of it, but at the very least, write it out. Seeing your story in writing will help validate your experiences by making them seem more real. Only remembering things isn’t as validating, I think, because you can convince yourself you just don’t remember things right. That is especially easy to do when a narcissist is telling you that you’re remembering things all wrong. Writing your story also can help you to see just what the narcissist is capable of by reminding you of things she already has done, & that can help you to deal with her. Seeing your story in writing is also an excellent reminder never to underestimate her. Writing your story is a very difficult step, but it is truly worth the difficulties.
When either the narcissist or others invalidate you, another good step to take is to remind yourself what they are doing. They don’t want to face the ugly truth that this person is incredibly abusive. They are trying to shut you up only to make themselves more comfortable. The good news is that this means their actions have nothing to do with you. The bad news is that knowing that doesn’t always make their actions not hurt. This knowledge can take some of the sting out of their actions though, & anything that helps to do that is a good thing in my book.
Finding the courage to set boundaries on being abused & even to end a toxic relationship isn’t easy. It takes a tremendous amount of courage & strength to do such things. One of the few things that is even more difficult is to tell other people your story. Part of the reason for this is the victim blaming & shaming that is so common in society.
Many people simply don’t want to hear anything negative. They are so obscenely positive it’s just ridiculous. If something is less than positive, they don’t want to hear it, & will shut that person down quickly when they can.
Even more common is those who have been abused themselves, yet refuse to face their pain. When they see someone facing their pain & conquering it, it makes them feel uncomfortable for two reasons. First, it reminds them of what they are trying so hard to forget. Second, it makes them feel inferior for not doing the same thing.
There are also those who enable abusers. For whatever bizarre reasons, they pity abusers & hate victims instead of the other way around. They have no tolerance for anyone who dares to speak out against abuse. They label these people troublemakers, liars, attention seekers, drama queens & more.
Often, people like this are easy to spot. They are the loud ones who call victims names, harass them & even send them vicious hate emails, texts & voicemails. The one plus about these people is you can have no doubt about what kind of awful person you’re dealing with when they act this way. The problem is when people are much more subtle in the way they try to shame & shut down victims. Below are some warning signs that someone is not safe to tell your story to.
If someone refers to your relationship as one where both you & your abuser are at fault for its demise, this person isn’t safe. We all know that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. However, when a person is abusive, it’s not an innocent mistake. It’s a deliberate choice to harm another person. Any functional person should recognize that!
All victims need understanding & empathy. Even if a person hasn’t been in an abusive relationship, anyone should be able to grasp that it’s not a pleasant experience & feel badly that anyone experienced that. Someone who can’t clearly lacks empathy & is a toxic person.
Avoid anyone who trivializes the abuse. One of my aunts once referred to the abuse I experienced as, “childhood hurts.” That truly hurt me & it destroyed our relationship. Luckily, it happened well into my healing journey. If it happens to someone new to their healing, an invalidating comment like this can be devastating!
Those who make excuses for abusers should be avoided. People who do this are as toxic as the abuser! They invalidate the victim’s pain & suffering, & even make the victim feel ashamed for not being understanding, or being too sensitive & such. The truth is there is NO good reason to abuse, period.
People who judge a person’s healing are toxic. Everyone heals differently & at a different pace. Many toxic people try to rush a victim along with comments like, “You need to let this go.” “It’s been how many months since you left him?” “You told me this already.” This does no good! To process & heal from abuse, it takes a lot of time, energy & sometimes even telling the same story over & over in an attempt to make some sense of it. A person who doesn’t understand that is toxic.
Anyone who uses a person’s faith as a reason they should tolerate abuse is incredibly toxic & should be avoided at all costs. While God didn’t promise this life would be easy, He never said anywhere in the Bible that tolerating abuse is good & holy. Yet, there are many who think it is the “good Christian” thing to do, tolerating abuse. I’m no theologian, but I do recognize that tolerating & enabling abuse is not only wrong, it’s not God’s will.
If you come across these kinds of people, remember, not everyone needs to know your story. Refuse to discuss it with them. You don’t need to be abused even more than you already have been!
So many people who were abused wonder the same thing: Why was I abused? They wonder what they did wrong or could have done to make their abuser abuse them. It’s certainly understandable to think this way. After all, narcissist never accept responsibility for their actions & also make certain their victims know they are to blame for all the problems in the relationship.
So why were you abused? The answer to these questions is this…
You were abused only because your abuser made the terrible, dysfunctional decision to abuse you.
You did nothing wrong. You aren’t a bad person. You didn’t allow this person to abuse you. You didn’t make anyone abuse you. You’re not annoying, stupid, a loser, a pushover, codependent, etc. There is absolutely nothing about you or that you could do to make anyone abuse you. Abusers are the only ones responsible for the abuse they inflict.
I know it can be hard sometimes wondering why this person who was supposed to love you inflicted so much pain on you. If you’ve been in more than one abusive relationship, it’s also natural to assume you’re the problem. After all, you’re the common denominator in the relationships so you must be the problem, right? Wrong.
I used to think these same things. It took some time, but the more I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & the more I healed, the more I came to realize that the monsters who abused me did so because something is VERY wrong with them, not me.
Something else to keep in mind about narcissistic abusers. Narcissistic parents work hard from the day their child is born to mold that child into whatever it is they want the child to be. In fact, many only have children to make themselves little “mini mes” to use so they can procure narcissistic supply.
As for narcissistic romantic partners, they’re not any better. They choose partners for utterly selfish reasons. They choose people who they think can make them look good somehow, or that they can change into something they’re not. Narcissists do love having that power over people to make them do their will.
In both the case of narcissistic parents & partners, the victim has nothing to do with why they were abused. Children are convenient & easily pliable especially by their parents. Romantic partners are chosen because they have good qualities that the narcissist thinks will make them look good. Keeping this in mind, how can anyone think that the abuse they endured was their fault!? It’s impossible!
Dear Reader, I hope you realize now that you have absolutely NO responsibility in the abuse you endured. Your abuser is the one who is responsible, not you. Please let go of any thinking that tells you it’s all your fault, because it is NOT your fault! Nothing you said or did could have convinced the narcissist in your life to stop abusing you & to treat you right.
Narcissists seem to have a “gift” for making their victims feel that they are the problem in the relationship, that they are the ones who are dysfunctional, not the narcissist. Often, they are so talented at doing this, a victim is completely baffled as to how it happened. This post will explain some ways narcissists accomplish this.
Narcissists love gaslighting. Gaslighting is the systematic tearing down of a person’s sanity. Narcissists will deny having done something, deny the incident happened as it did, find a way to blame the victim for the problem & more. Constant gaslighting tears down a person’s ability to trust their own memories, feelings, perceptions & yes, even sanity.
Narcissists either imply or say outright that their victims are crazy. My mother used to tell me often, “You need help.” It was accompanied by a pitying expression. She was implying I was in dire need of psychological help, yet, never got it for me. Why? Because she knew I was sane. I, however, had doubts for most of my life about my sanity. After all, no one would say such a thing to their own child if it wasn’t true, I thought.
Narcissists project their faults onto their victims. Narcissists view others through a very distorted lens. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to the corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure; both their mind and their conscience are corrupted.” (AMP) One aspect of this is accusing their victims of the very things that they themselves do, even when there is no evidence of the victim doing anything of the sort. They often accuse their victims with such certainty, the victim may believe the accusations are true. There is one good thing about projection. It can be useful in learning what the narcissist is really up to. The narcissistic husband who claims his wife is unfaithful is most likely having an affair. The narcissistic mother who accuses her child of lying is a lair. Listening to what the narcissist accuses you of can give you a great deal of insight into what they are truly like.
Narcissists love the silent treatment as a weapon. In my late teens, my mother & I argued constantly. One of her favorite ways to hurt me was to give me the silent treatment. I would beg her to tell me what was wrong, & she either refused to answer or would say, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” At the time, either scenario was devastating. Saying nothing showed me I wasn’t worth her time or energy to speak to. Saying she wouldn’t tell me if I didn’t know what was wrong made me feel crazy, stupid & ashamed for not knowing what egregious sin I had committed.
Narcissists lack self awareness. Rather than question that maybe, just maybe, they might be the problem in their relationships, they blame all relationship woes on other people. If you aren’t aware of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can be quite easy to believe that the narcissist is right, & you are at fault for their problems or the problems in your relationship.
Narcissists are provokers. In other words, narcissists will do whatever it takes to push their victims to the point of rage so they can use that rage to prove to the victim that the victim is crazy, abusive, irrational or anything else. Since the narcissist stays calm while the victim is clearly upset, it’s easy for the victim to believe what the narcissist says at this point.
Narcissists will say that they forgive you, even when you have done nothing wrong. By saying this, they are implying that you are the problem in this situation, & they are very good & kind people to forgive you for the awful things you have done.
Learning about these tactics can help you to protect your mental health, & not fall for the narcissist’s lies that you & you alone are the dysfunctional one in the relationship.
One very popular weapon in the narcissistic arsenal is guilt. Covert narcissists in particular are very fond of using guilt as a means of control. It’s understandable it’s such a common weapon considering how very effective guilt can be. It also is unfair & even cruel.
So how can you cope when your narcissistic parent uses guilt trips?
First, pray. Ask God for wisdom & discernment so you understand when guilt is being used on you & ways to cope with it.
You also need to recognize what is a guilt trip & what isn’t. You need to know when someone is saying something to manipulate you or to help you to change & improve yourself. Statements like, “It hurt my feelings when you said/did….” can help you. Statements that simply make you feel guilty like, “After all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me?” however aren’t to help you, but to control you.
You also need to be aware of the fact narcissistic supply is at the root of every single thing a narcissist does. Guilt trips are a part of that. Being able to control someone via guilt provides supply as does seeing that person upset about the guilt. The more you allow the guilt trips to work on you, the more the narcissist will use them on you. The best thing you can do is to pretend not to notice the guilt at all when you’re in the narcissist’s presence. Later, when away from her, vent to your heart’s content of course, but when in her presence or even on the phone with her, pretend you didn’t notice a thing. If she realizes guilt trips don’t work on you, she’ll stop using them since she sees they aren’t effective.
Don’t justify yourself or your actions. If you do, you’re only making yourself look guilty, which could mean the narcissist will get meaner. Probably my most successful interaction with my late covert narcissist mother in-law involved guilt from her. She wanted me to do something for her one day but I had plans. Granted, I could’ve changed them, but I didn’t want to. Not for someone who hated me & treated me so poorly. She kept trying to find out what my plans were. She said things like, “You sure must have something important to do if you won’t do this for me.” “I guess you’re doing something for your parents since you won’t help me…” Rather than explain my plans (which weren’t her business!), I ignored her. Since I didn’t tell her, she got mad, but couldn’t be mad at me without looking foolish in front of her husband & mine. By not justifying my actions, I protected my privacy, avoided more nastiness from her & she never tried to guilt trip me again. In fact, I found the entire thing funny because her behavior was so ridiculous. Much better to laugh than to be angry or hurt!
Remember, if you have done something wrong, you should feel some guilt since it will help you to improve your behavior. However, if you haven’t done anything wrong, then do NOT allow the guilt trip to work on you.
Have you ever been discussing the abuse from the narcissist in your life with someone who has told you that you need to be the bigger person & let this go? I have. Lots of times. So have many other victims of all kinds of abuse.
Recently, this came to mind for some reason. I thought about it & realized that this never felt right to me. It seemed somehow patronizing, invalidating, manipulative & shaming but I was unsure why I felt that way. After thinking about it, I think I figured the reasons.
If a victim is told they need to be the bigger person, it’s shaming. It basically says, “Something is wrong with you for being upset about this! Get over it already!” Shaming can be utterly devastating to victims of narcissistic abuse. Nothing can shut down a victim faster than shame, in my opinion. Saying, “You need to be the bigger person!” is an easy way for someone to stop a victim from discussing their abusive situation & pain.
Some people who have survived abusive relationships absolutely refuse to face their pain. They ignore it, or even pretend the abuse didn’t happen or that it wasn’t really abusive. When someone discusses their abusive history, these people are determined to shut them down immediately, because they don’t want any reminders of their own pain. They may not be acting out of malice as some people do. They simply don’t have the strength or courage to face their pain. Telling a victim to be the bigger person is an effective way for them to shut the victim down without sounding harsh.
If the person who says this is also a narcissist, that puts an interesting spin on the situation. That person probably sees no problem with the abuse, since they act in a similar way. When the victim points out it’s wrong, that could be offending this narcissist’s sensibilities. He or she wants to shut down the victim so he or she can go on acting terribly without any remorse. Not to mention, it’s not about the narcissist, so the narcissist couldn’t care less. Narcissists also lack empathy, so the narcissist doesn’t want to be bothered with what he or she sees as your petty problems. Or maybe the person could be a flying monkey of the original narcissist, & simply trying to shut the victim down & force the victim to continue to tolerate the awful & abusive behavior from their narcissist.
“You need to be the bigger person!” also shows that the person saying it thinks that the victim has the ability to be mature. They aren’t saying it to the abuser, after all. That can be flattering, & as victims, most of us aren’t used to someone believing anything good about us. It can be a good way for someone to shut down a victim while assuring the victim won’t get angry with the person saying this stupid phrase since it can sound flattering.
I truly believe that someone saying, “You need to be the bigger person!” basically boils down to a way that people try to silence victims by using shaming while simultaneously making victims feel they should not be angry at the person who is attempting to shut them down with this phrase. And in many cases, the person saying it also is trying to convince the victim to tolerate the abuse. It’s a lot packed into one phrase, isn’t it?
If someone says this to you, please take it as a red flag! This person isn’t safe for you to open up to about the abuse that you’ve endured! Of course you should talk about it not only to help yourself heal but also to help raise awareness of the horrors of narcissistic abuse. However, not everyone is safe to talk with about your experiences. Use wisdom in choosing who to open up to. Anyone who tells you to be the bigger person is NOT someone you need to open up to!
Severing ties with a narcissist is never easy. Not only due to the simple fact that ending any relationship is hard, but also because of the fact they don’t exactly handle this well. While no one likes to have someone end a relationship with them, it can become devastating to a narcissist. They will do about anything to get their victim to return to the relationship, often only so they can later discard their victim on their terms. This article will help you to avoid behaviors that can encourage a narcissist to want you back.
Naturally, do your best to avoid any interaction whatsoever with the narcissist after no contact. Narcissists don’t think like normal people, obviously, so they are prone to taking any interaction after no contact as a sign the relationship has been resumed. Take away their hope in that area if at all possible.
Sometimes even when doing your best to avoid a narcissist, they find ways to interject themselves into your life. One way they do this is by stalking & harassing their victims. They inundate victims with constant phone calls, text messages, social media messages & even postal mail. Or, they may show up places they know you frequent such as your favorite coffee shop. This can be incredibly unnerving. I’ve been on the receiving end of such behavior from two narcissists in my life, & I found it terrifying. I also learned that narcissists often know stalking & harassment laws well, so they stay just barely legal. This means getting a restraining order is very difficult, if not impossible. The most effective ways I know how to handle such behavior are never to respond to anything they send you & to block the narcissist at every pass. Granted, he or she probably will find ways around your blocks, such as creating new email addresses or social media accounts, but block them too. Keep blocking. If they have flying monkeys who tell you to talk to them, block them too. Do NOT engage either the narcissist or the flying monkey at all. Ever!
If you can’t avoid the narcissist completely, always remember the Gray Rock method. In other words, provide zero narcissistic supply. You know this person well, so naturally you know what makes him or her happy. Deprive this person of it. Provide no praise, no complements, no offers to do things for him or her. Also share absolutely no personal information about yourself. If she asks what you’re doing later, say you have plans & leave it at that. How is your job going? “Fine.” One or two word answers are the best.
Show no emotions to this person. You aren’t happy, sad, angry… anything. You are completely neutral in his or her presence. Emotions feed narcissists. If you’re happy, they can destroy it so you’re as miserable as they are. If they make you sad or angry, they feel powerful, so they’ll do that thing again to get their “high”. Deprive them of that feeding.
Show no remorse for anything you have done, including no contact. If you show you feel any sadness, guilt, or regrets, the narcissist will pounce on you like a hungry lion.
Do not give in to anything the narcissist tries to make you do. I don’t care if it’s something silly like passing them the salt shaker over lunch, don’t do it if it can be avoided. If not, do it perfunctorily.
By doing these things, you are essentially making yourself very unattractive to the narcissist in your life. They want people who will prop up their egos, blindly obey them & make them the center of their world. People who refuse to do such things are of no use to a narcissist, so a narcissist will leave them alone.
My mother hated my ex husband from the moment she first saw him. She barely tolerated him after we got married… until he hit me. At that time, my mother saw me injured a couple of days after, with my ex’s hand prints still bruised on my wrists. She told my father she couldn’t imagine what I’d done to him to make him hurt me. Months later, I learned my parents saw my ex around town & were friendly with him. Around 18 years later, my mother called one day & said my father told her my ex hit me. She asked if this was true. I said yes. She told me how if she would’ve known, she would’ve contacted a lawyer & pursued it. I also realized during this conversation that seeing me battered meant nothing to my mother, & she forgot it happened.
Sadly, my story is not unique. Narcissistic parents often side with their child’s abuser. The facts don’t matter. According to narcissistic parents, the abuser is right & their child is wrong. This behavior can be one of the most painful & baffling of the many abusive behaviors of a narcissist.
I have some clues as to why narcissistic parents behave in this manner.
When someone upstages a narcissist in any way, it’s bad in the narcissist’s eyes. People pity another person covered in bruises or wearing a cast, which means there is less attention for the narcissist. To a narcissist, this means that person should be punished, & what better way to punish someone than to side with the person who hurt them?
If their child doesn’t have physical evidence of abuse, their parent doesn’t believe them. Narcissists lie & assume everyone else does. It’s projection. So unless their child has evidence of abuse, their parent won’t even believe they were abused.
Narcissists believe they are the only ones worthy of attention, so when another person, in particular their “lowly” child gets attention, they get angry. With narcissists, any attention is good attention. All they see is someone got attention that they didn’t get, & that makes that person bad.
Narcissists don’t want to accept that abuse is wrong, because then they would be wrong. Rather than face truth, it’s better in a narcissist’s mind to normalize abuse & make the victim bad.
If the abuser was the other parent, making the abuse ok means it was also ok that they didn’t protect their child. Remember, with narcissists, everything is about them. If they can spin your trauma around to how hard it was on them, denying knowing it happened, or denying it happened at all, it makes their lack of protecting their child acceptable.
The abuser is someone a narcissist admires & they’re afraid the victim will make them look bad. Narcissists care what people other than their victim think of them & certain people’s opinions they value above all else. If that person hurts their child, their primary concern is still how that person sees them. As an example, my mother believed my in-laws’ were a big happy family. When I told my parents my mother in-law was abusive, even siting examples, my mother didn’t believe me. Until our relationship ended, my mother asked my husband often how his mother was, sent his parents Christmas cards, then bragged to me about sending them cards.
Jealousy is another reason narcissistic parents side with abusers. In cases where a narcissist’s adult child is being stalked &/or harassed, most narcissists act like the abuser really must love their child rather than realizing the abuser has serious control issues. This makes them jealous.
Narcissistic parents are often lazy. Just because they have a child doesn’t mean they want to parent. They get angry if they have to care for their child, & take the focus off of them for any length of time.
Covert narcissistic parents like to rescue their child. Coverts gain narcissistic supply from appearing good & kind, so if they can wait until their child is terribly abused, then rescue him or her in some way, it’s supply to them.
Whatever the reasoning, remember when your narcissistic parent sides with someone who has hurt or abused you, it is just more evidence that your parent is the one with the problem, NOT you! Normal people don’t side with abusers over victims! xoxo
Narcissists will use anything at their disposal to abuse & control their victims, & that even includes cars.
If a victim has hurt a narcissist somehow or even simply set boundaries with the narcissist, the narcissist may drive like a maniac in an attempt to scare the victim. After I broke off the engagement with my now ex husband, we went somewhere together & he was driving very erratically. It terrified me & I asked him to stop it. He said it was my fault he drove that way, because after I broke up with him, he didn’t care if he lived or died.
Cars are also an excellent place for a narcissist to have complete control over their victims. The victim has no means of escaping the narcissist’s car, so there is no choice but to tolerate whatever is done in that car. In my late teens when my mother’s abuse was at its worst, she refused to let me get my license & a car. Naturally, this meant she took me to & from school & work. Each ride was sheer hell for me because she screamed & raged at me the entire ride. I had no way of escaping either since I needed to get to my destinations, so there was no choice but to tolerate it.
Narcissists also often want to be the driver because this means their victim/passenger only can go where the narcissist wants to go & on her time schedule, not the victim’s. If they want to go somewhere with their victim, they will tell the victim what time they will pick him or her up, or tell the victim to come to the narcissist’s home so the narcissist can drive them to their destination. It’s all about control, & all victims know, narcissists love to have control over their victim in every possible way.
There are also some narcissists who don’t drive. This is most prevalent with covert narcissists rather than overt. They may play the naive & innocent role, claiming it is just too hard to drive. Since overt narcissists usually avoid appearing in a way that can look weak somehow, they usually drive. Again, this is all about control. If a narcissist can’t or won’t drive, this forces the narcissist’s victims to take care of her by either taking her places or doing things for her.
I’m certainly not saying that everyone who is a bad driver, who prefers to be the one driving or doesn’t drive is a narcissist, of course. Some people are simply more daring behind the wheel than others. There are also many people who develop serious anxiety behind the wheel, & they realize they shouldn’t be behind the wheel. There are others who love driving or who feel safest when they are driving. These people obviously aren’t narcissists, & you can tell they aren’t narcissists by their behavior. The daring driver is daring all of the time, not only after someone has upset him somehow. The anxious person asks for rides &/or offers gas money rather than expects others to help. The person who prefers being the driver never gets upset when someone says they want to drive or meet them somewhere.
If you have recently met someone, & think the person may be a narcissist, this is one way to help you to figure it out. Watch how the person is when it comes to driving.
Much like my last post, this one was inspired by some random ponderings related to my first marriage.
Let me set the stage for our third wedding anniversary. My ex & I were living with his parents, which was his idea & not something I wanted to do. About 2 months prior, I spontaneously severed ties with my mother. I don’t even remember why anymore, but I was angry at her. My ex also pressured me about kicking her out of my life for years. I pretty much just snapped. I hadn’t felt right about severing ties with my mother since doing it, because it wasn’t well thought out.
On the day of our anniversary, both of his parents were home, & planning to drive to my ex father in-law’s sister’s home in PA for Christmas, as they always did. My ex mother in-law & I were in the kitchen talking when the phone rang. She answered it, & suddenly darted around the corner. It was unusual, but I didn’t think much more of it. Later after my ex got home from work, I looked at the caller ID in our room & saw my parents’ number. Immediately it clicked- that was why his mom hid from me while on the phone. I mentioned it to him & said maybe I should call her back (obviously this was well before learning about NPD). He got furious with me & I got furious back. I got in my car & left to cool off for a bit.
When I got home an hour or two later, my ex mother in-law was waiting for me. She took me aside & told me I had to make things right. I upset my ex so badly, he was punching walls after I left.
I ended up being the bad guy in this whole situation. For upsetting my ex & also upsetting his parents by “storming out of the house without telling anyone i was leaving” (I was 22- didn’t realize I had to check in with anyone at this point in my life..).
You know something though? If my mother hadn’t called, none of this would have happened. She knew my ex hated her as much as she hated him. She had to know her calling would start a fight between us. Yet, she called anyway, & on our wedding anniversary of all days!
There’s also my ex. Another narcissist, he had to make my painful situation with my mother all about him & what he wanted & what he thought I should do. He also had to make sure his parents knew just how upset he was & how that was all my fault, knowing his mother would intervene.
This is typical narcissist behavior!! They just had to ruin what should have been a special & happy day. They use anything they can to destroy any joy in their victim’s life.
My point in sharing this with you, Dear Reader, is this. If you have a narcissist in your life in any way – parent, spouse, cousin, anything – be prepared for your special days to be ruined. This is one of their favorite tactics. My third anniversary with my ex is hardly the only special day that has been ruined by narcissists in my life. Countless birthday have been miserable. So many Thanksgivings & Christmases have been ruined by narcissists like my pushy, demanding in-laws & my ex & current husbands opting to spend those days with them over me that now I absolutely dread those two holidays. I used to thoroughly enjoy Christmas (not Thanksgiving so much), & now once November 1 arrives, I start dreading the pending holidays & am pretty angry until they’re done.
Narcissists love to destroy any joy in their victims. Probably because they want their victims to be as miserable as they are. It also makes them feel powerful if they can have some control over a person’s emotions. Feeling powerful is great narcissistic supply, after all, so it’s no wonder they enjoy this scenario so much.
Obviously, there is no way to stop a narcissist from ruining your special days. The best advice I have is to keep in mind that they are going to try ruining them at some point so you aren’t shocked when it happens. It will help you to be prepared.
Your best bet is if at all possible, avoid the narcissist completely on special days. If you can’t, try to keep in mind they aren’t happy until those around them are totally miserable like they are. Deprive them of that narcissistic supply. Don’t let them see that what they do & say bothers you.
Don’t you wish you knew some ways to shut the narcissist in your life down & make them behave? Well, I can’t promise you some magical words that make narcissists behave, but there are some things you can say to shut them down temporarily…
- Don’t let the narcissist change the subject. When you need to discuss something important to you such as the narcissist’s bad behavior, you can count on her changing the subject in an attempt to avoid being called out. As frustrating as it can be, keep changing the subject back to what you want to discuss.
- Let the narcissist know she doesn’t scare you. Narcissists love to intimidate their victims, but truthfully, most of their “intimidation” is nothing but smoke & mirrors. In typical bully fashion, narcissists often make threats they won’t follow through on in an attempt to scare victims into doing their will. What is the worst this person can do to you? Chances are when you think about it, you’ll realize it’s not really a lot.
- Use logic. Ask logical questions. “So you think I should do what you want even though I don’t want to do it. Why? How does doing that benefit me? Seems to me it benefits you & hurts me.” “You think I’m fat? You know I weigh 110 pounds. Unless a person is 2′ tall, that’s not fat, & I’m taller than that.” “How is it my fault you lost your job?” Doing this in a calm way calls the narcissist out in such a manner that she can’t get mad at you without looking foolish. Often, they simply change the subject when a victim does this. End of nasty comments!
- Do not allow the narcissist to make decisions for you. Any decisions that the narcissist makes for you gives her a bit of control over you, even if it’s something as simple as what you order for dinner. If she tells you to try the soup, order a sandwich. Simply say something like, “No thanks.. I want to do/try this instead.” in a calm manner & follow through.
- Do not take orders from the narcissist. Narcissists do love to control others, don’t they?! My mother used to bark out orders to me like I was the hired help. I found a way to put a stop to it when I realized just how much she enjoyed doing this. When she told me to do something, I would do it but add in a comment like, “Of course! I’d be glad to do it since you asked so nicely. You’re welcome!” The first time I did that, the look of shock on her face was priceless. But, it did change her behavior for a bit. When she slid into her old habits, I said the same kind of comment & she behaved again for a while. Or, if it was something I didn’t want to do, I’d nicely say, “Nope. Not gonna happen.” & change the subject. Usually a small narcissistic rage followed both of these, but it was very small usually consisting of a few snarky comments.
- Say, “no” without any explanation. This might just make the narcissist’s head explode.. lol There isn’t one narcissist alive who is ok with being told no, but especially sans a good explanation. You owe no one any explanation, especially a narcissist who will just twist your words around to make you look & feel bad, so don’t give them that opportunity. Honestly, doing this can kinda be fun too.. if you’ve read this story of mine before, I apologize for the repeat but it’s such a good example! Years ago, when my husband & I were at his parents’ house, my mother in-law said she wanted me to do something for her. I didn’t want to, plus I had an appointment on the day in question. Although I could’ve rearranged things, I opted not to because she was so hateful to me. “Quality time” with her was not something I wanted. When she told me I could do this thing, I said no, I couldn’t. She said, “Oh. Well it must be awful important if you won’t help me because of it.” I gave a non committal “hmm mm.” As the visit wore on, she kept bringing it up. “You must be doing something for your parents that day.” “Nope.” I forget what all she asked me, but each time, I either said no or didn’t respond at all. By the time we left her house, I was surprised her head didn’t explode! She was dying to know my plans & couldn’t get mad at me for not sharing them without looking like a jerk to my father in-law & husband! It was amazing!!!
Although nothing can stop narcissists completely, doing these simple things will help you to keep your sanity & make them behave better even if only temporarily. I wish you the best in your situation!